When I saw 2 hot air balloon chase vehicles heading west on a road near our campsite I knew there had to be balloons in the air & probably close. They were. Soon as I stepped out of the rig I saw 3 big brightly colored balloons heading our way. I hollered to Kelly & we quickly abandoned our current plans, jumped in the Jeep & headed west in pursuit of the balloons.
Hadn’t gone far & saw one chase vehicle by the side of the road. 2 balloons were descending slowly when I heard the burner going in the closest one & he began to lift again. The chase vehicle took off & we followed a couple minutes later after I grabbed some photos. Spotted it again off down a dirt lane in a field. Had to make 2 quick U-turns to find that lane & we quickly pulled in off the road about 6 car lengths back from the chase vehicles so as not to crowd them. Minutes later I realized that turned out to be an ‘Oh-Oh’ decision.
BALLOON’S CHASE CREW READY THEMSELVES FOR THE BALLOON’S LANDING
CAN YOU SEE OUR ‘OH-OH’ MOMENT COMING UP…KELLY’S AT THE BACK OF THE JEEP
In a comment on my Saturday post Jerry C in part had this caution for us…. “You don't want to get in front (of the balloon) as you may possibly interfere with his landing attempt. As long as your are behind the path of the balloon, you're good”.
Keeping that caution foremost in my mind I obviously parked right in the path of the descending balloon. Thought I had done Okay but not so much as I watched the balloon’s approach straight for the Jeep.
SEE THE TIP OF OUR JEEP’S AERIAL JUST INCHES UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE BASKET
The ground crew guys were right there kinda joking about the ‘Jeep Pancake’ etc. They were good natured & laughing while re-assuring us the Jeep was just fine where it was. Now if were to tell you it came close enough to just about brush our whip aerial on the back of the Jeep you would think that an exaggeration of course. But aha, I have the photos:))
YOU CAN’T SEE KELLY BUT SHE IS ACTUALLY BENDING THE AERIAL OVER SO THE BASKET DOESN’T HIT IT
A FEATHER LIKE TOUCH-DOWN
These guys sure know what they are doing & as it turns out the fellow piloting that particular balloon is a veteran balloonist. He knew exactly to within a few square feet exactly where, when, & how he was going to gently set that gently down. And the fellas in his crew knew that he knew. And that explained why nobody was panicking about a large heavy balloon basket loaded with 17 people slipping just a few feet over our Jeep’s roof. Had I not been busy taking photos of this event unfolding I probably would have been the one person in the crowd panicking.
WAITING FOR THE BALLOON TO COOL & THEN DISEMBARKING…AND OF COURSE PHEEBS WAS RIGHT THERE HAPPILY GREETING EVERYONE
What a great way to start the day. Maybe we were not in the balloon itself but we were there for the landing & that was something totally new & exciting for us. Great fun for me to have something different to photograph for a change. And great fun for the Pheebs as she ran excitedly around greeting all the folks climbing out of the balloon basket. And she was right in there wanting to help the crew as well. Everyone was very friendly to her & she took advantage of that landing a few smooches on people when they bent down to pet her. She’s a master at the art of unexpected smooches.
We stayed & watched as the whole process unfolded from the balloon load of passengers landing, disembarking, pulling the big air bag over & spilling it’s hot air, unhooking the basket, crew members inside the bag totally deflating it, rolling it up & loading it in a crate which in turn was cleverly loaded into a trailer. Basket propane burner was detached & it also, with the help of a few male passengers, cleverly but simply loaded in the same trailer as well. I took a lot of photos of the whole balloon event from it coming in to land right up to the balloon crews vehicle departing the landing zone with passengers & balloon all stored away. I would love to include the photos detailing the process but obviously I can’t get that all in one post. We will probably head for home Wednesday & over the next week I will post the photos of the balloon crew at work packing everything up. Interesting how they get that large balloon deflated, rolled up & stowed away including the heavy basket.
Talked to the friendly & knowledgeable balloon pilot who was also the fellow in charge of the whole operation & he & his crew verified something else Jerry C said in his blog comment…Jerry said, "I know there are exceptions to everything, but have never met a balloonist that didn't welcome folks to gather around a landing area, take pictures, and ask questions”. And that is exactly what we found this morning. Nobody hollered at me, ‘hey get that Jeep out of here ya Doorknob’!!
And a short note to the pilot/crew chief fellow I was talking to from RED ROCK BALLOON ADVENTURES. Sorry I didn’t get your name but if there are any of my photos you can use just go ahead & use them. It’s a hobby for me & am always glad if & when any of my photos can be used by someone for a useful purpose. Obviously not all photos I took are in tonight’s post but I will be adding more of this mornings photos over the next few days or week. If you would like a copy of all the photos just email me & I will send them along to you.
THE BALLOON CREW HEADS BACK TO SEDONA
Our original plan for the day before the balloons came along was triggered by long time reader Phil who suggested a drive north up highway 89a from Sedona to Flagstaff & then back on I-17. Those are 2 stretches of road we had not been on before so after our morning’s hot air balloon excitement we headed into Sedona. Traffic was not too bad as we enjoyed the ride through town, successfully made our way around 3 round-a-bouts & headed north through Oak Canyon. What a marvelous drive this is & I can only imagine how this road must look when all the trees lining the way are in full green foliage. And what a wonderment it must be when in the Fall all the trees & foliage spring forth with Autumn colors. The road is a fun drive with many twists, turns, & 15mph hairpins. Definitely not a good road for RVs because it is narrow & many of the roadside trees are right there at the roadside with their branches ready to do some creative pin striping on whatever finely painted tall vehicle passes goes by. We basically had the northbound lane all to ourselves heading towards Flagstaff but we had a lot of southbound traffic going by on it’s way to Sedona.
SLIDE ROCK STATE PARK
South of Flagstaff we did stop at a scenic area called Oak Creek Vista. Great views looking back down the canyon. Native Indian folks with tables of hand made arts & crafts. Lot of people there so Kelly had Pheebs on a leash or she would have been, well you know what she does…..jumps up & smooches everybody.
YOU CAN SEE 89a HIGHWAY WE JUST CAME UP
Reaching Flagstaff we basically made a right hand U-turn from 89a right onto the southbound ramp of I-17 without missing a beat. More new scenery as we sailed southward along the 4 lane highway. Traffic was not heavy. And it wasn’t until I saw a exit sign for Schnebly Hill that I realized I have been spelling that wrong in my previous posts.
AND YES WE DID SEE SNOW ALONG # 17 HIGHWAY TODAY SOUTH OF FLAGSTAFF
It was somewhere around 10:30 & we were both hungry. Not wanting to get tangled up Cottonwood’s traffic we decided to take the quiet route through Cornville & Page Springs again. Kelly remembered seeing a lot of cars at a nice looking eatery in Page Spring so that was our destination. We had our feed bags strapped on well before we got there……& then it was closed. Open from Wednesday to Sunday:(( Well that kind of dampened our tummy Spirits so we decided not to drop around & say hello to Senator John McCain who has a ranch somewhere right around Page Springs. Or did he sell it??
Because we had our appetites geared up for some restaurant food for a change we reluctantly decided to head on into Cottonwood & take our chances with the traffic. Surprisingly the traffic was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Not knowing where to go Kelly spotted a place called Georgios & in we went. I enjoyed by bacon, eggs, toast, home fries & orange juice. Not sure what Kelly had but she didn’t care for it. It ended up in a ‘take-home’ box & will likely be fed to me tonight. (it was) But one little Critter that shouldn’t really be eating anything tonight is the Pheebs. While we were in Georgios for breakfast late this morning Pheebs found half of Kelly’s peanut butter sandwich in the Jeep plus 8 chocolate chip cookies she had stashed away. Pheebs carefully took all 8 cookies & half the peanut butter sandwich out of a sealed plastic bag & wolfed them down!! What a little Cookie Monster she is………
Stopped by Annie’s place but she wasn’t there. We were back home before 1 p.m. Did I mention we are under big blue sunny Arizona skies again with a lite breeze & 75F. WOW:)))))
Annie emailed later to say she was home so we slipped on over shortly after 3. Pheebs was happy to see Jake again but wasn’t too sure about Annie’s cats. She kept her distance. A Ranger had come by & informed Annie her 14 day limit was about up & she would not be allowed to slide across the road to our spot after we leave. Needless to say that was very disappointing news for Annie so she’s having to work on some new traveling plans now. We stayed for about an hour & a half & then it was time to go. Hope our trails cross again one day Annie & Pheebs says to give Jake a big smooch:))
Of course after my Sunday night post I had my conscience following me around & bothering me all day. Referring to a group of people as ‘cackling’ was not too considerate on my part. I may have thought that but I didn’t have to write that. I was just bemoaning the bad timing of having the Pink Jeep tour arrive 2 minutes after we did. In fact I wouldn’t mind going along on one of those Jeep tours myself. I’d be really curious as to how those beefed up Jeeps handled & how those experienced drivers do the things with those Jeeps they do. And of course there is always the plus of a commentary along the way & when destinations are reached. Without a guide to explain things one is only left with their own imaginations of what they are looking at. Of course I would prefer it if only Kelly & I were the one’s on the tour but…..awwww Geeeezzzzz, there I go again!!
GROANER’S CORNER:(( The economy is sometimes so bad that:
- I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
- A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.
- CEO's are now playing miniature golf.
- The Mafia is laying off judges.
- If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.
- McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.
- Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.
- Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.
That's good fun right there. Those balloons just make me happy.ReplyDelete
Great adventures and equally great pictures, Al. It was also such a treat to see you were very close to my an area where I have lots of family. Slide Rock, which used to be free to anyone and unfenced, is where my cousins and I used to go when it was hot, hot, hot. Wore out a lot of shorts sliding down that stretch of the creek! Cornville, Page Springs, Tlaquepacque in Sedona...love that whole area.ReplyDelete
Beeyootiful part of Arizona.
I think I would have had heart failure watching that balloon descend so close to my vehicle. You were pretty lucky.ReplyDelete
Wonderful to get up close and personal with the balloons. That whole area is so beautiful, we enjoyed every day we spent there.
Wow is all I can say about your pictures! I can only imagine how excited I would have been to see that. Your pictures are fantastic! And then you got to see the wonderful Annie and Jake. What a perfect day.ReplyDelete
So glad you drove through Oak Creek Canyon! It is absolutely stunning in the late fall. We were there this year in ... November (I'll have to look at my photos). Glad you guys had a great trip!ReplyDelete
I hope they shared a sip of champagne with you when they hit the ground... how exciting!ReplyDelete
Very exciting way to start the day.....beautiful captures!ReplyDelete
Just love those hot air balloons we have chased a few around the farmlands in southern Ontario.ReplyDelete
The drive north on 89a sure is a fun one, but definitely a road for rv's.
Another fun day you had.
Great job with that balloon landing on the Jeep!!!ReplyDelete
I guess Pheebs sent a little message about being left in the Jeep. She had breakfast out, also. Smart dog!
I believe they still have the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, NM...but it is in the Fall . Too bad you couldn't be there for that..and NM is a wonderful state to explore!ReplyDelete
So glad you were able to be part of a balloon landing. I knew you would get some fantastic pictures, and thought you would enjoy the experience. Looking forward to seeing more pictures.ReplyDelete
Now that was an adventure! Great photos. I had purchased a balloon trip for Colin for his 50th, it was an experience to remember.ReplyDelete
What fun--it's super finding someone who is an expert at their job, whatever it is! I hope Pheebs didn't get a tummy ache from all those cookies--she's quite adept at opening bags! What a fun day you had!ReplyDelete
That was exciting. And what an amazing photo opp. Our beagle was able to steal about a dozen chocolate chip cookies and I kept waiting for her to get sick. Never did. Figured she must have a cast iron stomach. 89a is definitely a beautiful drive in the Fall.ReplyDelete
I'ms sure you could book a private tour, It might be costly, but you would enjoy it. When I thought about the gaggle of pink jeep riders, I thought how much more disturbing it would be if each couple had their own jeep on the road. I would rather deal with people than traffic in the wilderness.ReplyDelete
In our short time exploring parks etc. We have found going on trails less traveled away from the centeral parking area had fewer people on them.
Bus loads? If we see them coming, we either let them pass or do as you did and hurry ahead. They have just as much right to be there as we.
I am sometime ammused by groups of foreigners snapping hundereds of pictures on their phones.
Although Icarry a camera now for the sake of the blog, for years I refused to because I felt I saw and experienced more thry my eyes than thru a view finder. This is why I only carry a small camera, I am always glad to hand it over to Craig so I can enjoy the here and now.
I am glad you carry a camera however. You images always amaze me and motivate me to look at details of my world.
Sorry about all the misstyping, I'm pecking this out on the ipad and it frezzes up if I go back.
I could tell by your writings that you are a kind man but to see you openly humble yourself and appologize from a heavy conviction lingering in your heart only seals it for me that you are a kind, gentle man. Thanks for being a man who knows how to be humble.ReplyDelete
Great post on Sedona. Too bad about the traffic, but stay around and it will subside. We are Sedona residents and actually like watching the folks scurrying about and enjoying our home. You are very close to the Red Rock Loop Rd which starts near the high school on 89A and will give you stunning views of the red rocks of Sedona.ReplyDelete
Al, chocolate is poison to dogs, as I'm sure you know. The effects can last a long time. Google it for more info or talk to a vet. She's probably OK, but better safe than sorry.ReplyDelete
I remember you did say that you hoped one of those balloons would land in your yard...so, landing almost on top of the Jeep was sort of a plus!! Great photos, and how fortunate for you to be right there for some great close ups. Bet not many folks get to see those landings from that close, except the ground crew. We enjoyed driving through Oak Creek Canyon, and Slide Rock State Park was an interesting place. Sure is beautiful country there.ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed seeing the photos of that green and yellow balloon, since it looks like it should have a great big Oregon O on it...like the University of Oregon. LOL
Now that's an adventure I could sure enjoy. I would love to go up in a balloon but watching one up close and personal would be exciting too. Great pictures.ReplyDelete
How cool is that!! I had a very similar experience happen to me at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta a couple of years ago. The balloon landed right on top of my rig.ReplyDelete
You can see it at http://jimbosjourneys.com/2011/10/09/exciting-final-days-of-the-albuquerque-balloon-fiesta/
Really enjoy you rphotos. The First natiosn craft table wold definitely have gotten some business from me. I love that stuff.ReplyDelete
Now that would have been quite the hood ornament! Something to really boast about...ReplyDelete
Can't picture myself rolling up and packing away a balloon. I got tired of doing that with just a tent and bought an RV. ;c)
I have a beautiful silver bracelet I still wear which I purchased from those folks in Oak Creek Canyon--I was on a hiking trip with friends, we hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Great photos Al!ReplyDelete
I don't think I could have left the jeep there, I would have had to move it to make sure it didn't get flattened. Great photos, that must have been really fun. :)ReplyDelete
I sure hope you're submitting those beautiful photos to multiple magazines! You are a real professional!ReplyDelete
Nice to start a day off with new excitement. Great photos of your balloon attack.ReplyDelete
I'm curious about the balloon....do the cactus make holes in it? I'm sure they're examined after each use but deflating it on a cactus bed could be badReplyDelete
Your pictures are gorgeous!
Great adventures and equally great pictures, Al. It was also such a treat to see you were very close to my an area where I have lots of family. Slide Rock, which used to be free to anyone and unfenced, is where my cousins and I used to go when it was hot, hot, hot. Wore out a lot of shorts sliding down that stretch of the creek! Cornville, Page Springs, Tlaquepacque in Sedona...love that whole area.homes for sale Cornville AZ.ReplyDelete